Why Cite?:
To Cite or Not to Cite? Part 2 of 5

Why Cite?

Outcome: You will understand the purpose of citation.

Approximate Completion Time: 5 minutes

**To receive credit for completing this portion of the tutorial you must fill out the form on page 6.**




The Purpose of Citation

In either writing or speaking if you do not acknowledge your sources of information, your audience is led to believe that everything presented is your own work. Citing helps your audience differentiate between your own work and that of your sources.

Using the work of experts can increase your credibility but for that to work the audience has to know that you are using the expert's work and be able to assess the credibility of the expert.

For instance if I tell you that in 2016 Social Security is going to start spending more than it takes in, you must assume that I am making that statement from my own knowledge, and what do I know about Social Security spending? However if I tell you that in a July 2010 report the Congressional Budget Office (a non-partisan Congressional agency charged with evaluating Congressional proposals for their financial impact.) projects that in 2016 Social Security is going to start spending more than it takes in, you can evaluate whether you trust the Congressional Budget Office as a source of information. You can go and find that report and read the statement for yourself and decide whether I have interpreted it correctly.


Social Security Benefits -2009-2083

 (Image credit: Rcragun. Social Security Benefits - 2009-2083.png. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.)


Fig. 1: Rcragun. "Social Security Benefits - 2009-2083.png." Chart. Wikimedia Commons, 7 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Aug. 2010.



Citation also gives your audience the means to find your sources.

Have you ever listened to a speech and thought that a particular web site, article or book sounded really interesting and wanted to find it for yourself? Conversely have you ever heard about a particular web site, wanted to read it, and found that the person who told you about it did not give you enough information to actually find it?



Why Cite in a Particular Format?

Following a set of rules ensures that all the information needed to find a particular source will be included in the citation. As the ways we look for information change citation styles also change. Certain elements may no longer be needed, and other new elements are included.  

The rules are also designed to ensure consistency. If you become accustomed to a certain style, citations written in that style become much easier to read. The elements of the citation will always be in the same order, and you will recognize that order.

Which list below is easier to read?


Works Cited

2009.  Kevin Bales. U of California P. THE SLAVE NEXT DOOR: human trafficking and slavery in america today. Rod Soodalter. Berkeley.Print.

Time. 7 July 2010. "Human Trafficking Rises in Recession." Fetini, Alyssa. 18 June 2009. Web.

Santana, M. C. Who is worth saving: human traffic news in the Caribbean and the United

            States. (2009). Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.International Journal of Academic Research 1(2), 206-11.

V. MIzELl. T3.Web.Washington Post "Working to Shed Light on Very Dark Practices – Activists Seek to End

            Human Trafficking in D.C." 8 Oct. 2009. Newsbank. 7 July 2010."Trafficking in Persons Report 2010." U.S. Department of State. June 2010. Web. 7 July 2010.

Works Cited

Bales, Kevin and Rod Soodalter. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in

            America Today. Berkeley: U of California P, 2009. Print.

Fetini, Alyssa. "Human Trafficking Rises in Recession." Time. Time, 18 June 2009. Web. 7 July


Mizell, Vanessa. "Working to Shed Light on Very Dark Practices – Activists Seek to End

            Human Trafficking in D.C." Washington Post 8 Oct. 2009: T3. Newsbank. Web. 7 July


Santana, M. C. "Who is Worth Saving: Human Traffic News in the Caribbean and the United

            States." International Journal of Academic Research 1.2 (2009): 206-11. Academic

            Search Complete. Web. 7 July 2010.

 "Trafficking in Persons Report 2010." U.S. Department of State, June 2010. Web. 7 July 2010.


 Inspired by Hunt, Fiona and Jane Birks. "Citation Consistency Game." More Hands-On Information Literacy Activities. New York: Neal Schuman, 2008. 72-77. Print.

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*Click Finish and then Print to keep a copy of your answer.*

Works Cited

Works Cited


Congressional Budget Office. "Social Security Policy Options." Congressional Budget Office,

            July 2010. Web. 21 July 2010.

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